Anyone who has been around children these days knows that the popularity of social networking continues to grow among children. Social networking sites can provide a safe way for children to communicate with each other, but they can also be exploited for any number of shameful purposes. Recent headlines about the dangerous online challenges of inappropriate adult content emphasize the need for parents to take specific steps to keep their children safe online.
For some parents, their children know more about computers and the Internet than they do, however, it is important to remember that children are not old enough to understand all the different threats lurking on the Internet. Here are important things to discuss with your children:
- Explain the difference between sharing and oversharing – While social networks are about sharing images, ideas, and experiences, explain to your children that they should never share personal information such as phone numbers, address, bank account numbers, passwords, or their Social Security numbers. Also talk about what constitutes inappropriate images or language and stress the fact that – while you may be able to delete them – you can never fully get them back.
- The phrase “never talk to strangers” applies to the Internet too – One of the first rules we teach our children is to never talk to strangers; Remind them that the rule is true when online.
- Adjust strict privacy settings – Social networking sites allow users to select who they want to share information with. Talk to your child about restriction
- Keep Communication Channels Open Let your children know you are always ready to talk if they are threatened, bullied, or feel uncomfortable about their online experience.
- Join them online – if you haven’t already, set up your own account in the same social networks. This will help you better understand the meaning of social networks. You can also then “befriend” your child and monitor what they are doing.
- Federal law requires sites that collect identifying information from children under 13 to obtain parental consent first.
- Inappropriate content on apps – Some apps that claim to attract children may also carry adult content, so be sure to preview the content on the app before letting your child use it.
Sources: BBB.org, FTC, National Cyber Security Alliance
To learn more about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), check out the FTC’s COPPA Resources page. For more information on protecting your child’s privacy, go to BBB Tip: Managing Your Child’s Online Privacy and Tips for Parents on Raising Smart Kids with the National Cybersecurity Alliance.
To find a company you can trust, check out BBB.org. To report a scam, go to BBB.org/ScamTracker.